Pries’ Tryout Camp Graduates Six For Victoria Tyees
By JIM TANG
[Victoria Colonist, March 11, 1954]
The next five weeks will be long ones for Don Pries, new manager of the Victoria Tyees.
Pries, who will spend his time between now and the opening of training camp on April 14 doing some pre-baseball selling, arrived in Victoria yesterday to start his new duties. He was bubbling over with enthusiasm and plans for the 1954 WIL season—but in his ever-present briefcase he had the signed contracts of a half a dozen players, all of whom appear to have a chance to stick with the club and a line on a few others who could be of help.
Getting his first chance as a manager after a decade of minor league baseball, the still-youthful Pries is certainly letting no grass grow under his feet in putting together the kind of team he wants.
MUST BE FAST
And there’s no doubt about what kind of team he wants. “I’m going to get players who can move—steal that base and lay down that bunt and beat it out. They’re going to be young with their future ahead of them and they’re going to want to play baseball. We will play interesting baseball.”
Pries, however, indicates that he also wanted a few solid veterans to add balance and poise but the general idea was that if it’s fun to play it’s fun to watch and if it’s fun to watch it’s fun to play.
To get a start on building his kind of club, the energetic Pries actually held his own tryout school in Alameda, California. He invited 15 players to work out and out of the 15, signed six and may have two or three more here for a tryout.
Chief among Pries’ acquisitions is a second-baseman, and business-manager Reg Patterson, who had been hoping to purchase the young infielder, beamed even more broadly than usual when Pries announced that Ron Jackson had signed a Victoria contract. Unless reports are wrong, the Tyees appear to have no keystone worry.
Jackson, 23 years of age and 165 pounds, played last season with Charleston in the class “A” Sally League. He was purchased by Denver of the class “A” Western League but when the Bears forgot to send him a contract before March 1, he became a free agent. Several clubs, including Lewiston in the WIL, sought Jackson’s services but Pries was on the spot with his infectious enthusiasm.
Another of Pries’ more interesting prospects is outfielder Tommy Keough, brother of the Marty Keogh who received a $125,000 bonus from the Boston Red Sox last year. Victoria’s Keough is 22 years of age and played through his college career with the University of California. He led all major colleges in hitting in his senior year—1952.
Then there’s Pepper Wesley, 20-year-old colored infielder who played with the American Legion junior champions of 1951—Oakland Post 5. Wesley is a graduate of Santa Rosa Junior College.
Pries also latched onto Mike Kanshin, tall righthander who played for Wenatchee in 1952. Kanshin, who can throw hard, was invited to the Oakland training camp by manager Chuck Dressen and decided to cast his lot with Pries and the Tyees. He played last season with Saskatoon in the Saskatchewan semi-pro league and claims to have overcome the lack of control which was his chief trouble.
Merlyn Anthony and Primo Santini, who formed the second-base combination for the strong Marysville (Calif.) semi-pro team last season, round out the first graduating class from the “Pries Baseball School.”
Anthony, 24, played two years ago with Eau Claire in the Wisconsin State League but broke a wrist and didn’t finish the season. Santini, a vest-pocket shortstop, is 21 and, according to Pries, “fast and fancy with his glove.”
Speed is what the “Pries grads” all have and the Tyee manager says they are all fast enough for the WIL. He believes they will hit enough, too.
TOTAL AT 17
Announcement of the signing of the above six gives the Tyees a total of 17 players, counting catcher Milt Martin, who is trying to stick with the Portland Beavers.
From last year’s club are pitchers Bill Prior, Bob Drilling, Lowell Hodges and Earl Dollins, and catcher Jim Harford. And Patterson has signed five players. They are outfielder Art Seguso, infielder Steve Mesner, righthander Ross McFarlane, southpaw Fred Christiansen and infielder Jerry Kane.
McFarlane, who pitches last year at Salt Lake City, was signed as a free agent. Kane, who hails from Fairbanks, Alaska, is a 22-year-old who came highly recommended by Pat Orr, veteran ex-Coast League umpire, which Christiansen is a Prince Rupert product who has had a “can’t miss” label pinned on him by Scotty Robinson, ex-Victoria who is now sports supervisor at Terrace. All will get their chance in training.
In addition to the above 17, the Tyees have a chance to get Ray Hamrick, ex-Coast League outfielder; Harry Easterwood, ex-Coast League catcher, and two or three others that Pries is still trying to sign. And, of course, any help that Portland Beavers may have. Patterson and club president Arthur Cox plan to leave for the Glendale training camp of the Beavers in about 10 days to look over the surplus talent and expect to come back with at least a half dozen players.
On the basis of this early report, Tyees need at least one solid pitcher and some punch from the left side of the plate. Several deals are in the negotiation stage and Patterson is hopeful that one or more may be finalized well before league play starts April 29.